Why are their Nigerians doing so well?

Nigerian-born Adewale (Wally) Adeyemo has been nominated as America’s Deputy Treasury Secretary in the administration of Joe Biden – a powerful position in the global economy.

This is an extraordinary achievement for Adeyemo, who is only 39 and came up through the ranks of Barack Obama’s administration. He has headed the Obama Foundation since 2019.

But it speaks to the success of Nigerians in the US and other western countries.

Despite attempts by President Donald Trump to block African immigrants to the US – and his reference to African countries as shitholes – Nigerians are the most successful immigrant community in the US.

This has left some people wondering why the image of Nigerian immigrants in South Africa is so different.

Some South Africans view their Nigerian neighbours as drug dealers and criminals – a reputation that was highlighted in the movie District 9 in which scary Nigerian gangsters eat alien flesh and pimp human prostitutes for the aliens.

Negative media depictions have fuelled attacks on Nigerians during fits of xenophobia, an issue that has strained relations between Africa’s two most powerful countries.

Nigerians in the US by contrast are regarded as super-achievers, amassing post-graduate degrees in engineering, medicine and the arts, and becoming bankers and leading figures in the business community. They are consistently amongst the best performing students at the US’ top universities.

One of the leading scientists behind the Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough is a Nigerian-American, Dr Onyema Ogbuagu.

In the recent US elections a Nigerian-American Oye Owelewa was elected to Congress for the District of Columbia and Esther Agbaje became the first Nigerian American to win a seat in the Minnesota legislature.

The list goes on.

Perhaps a student somewhere can do research to explain the difference between how communities from the same country can be viewed in such a different light.  

It’s probably not hard to guess that it will be done by a Nigerian.

Picture source: @TrevorNcube

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